How social norms shape the long-term consequences of war-rape: a mixed method qualitative exploration

Shala, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-6052-5851, Kellezi, B. ORCID: 0000-0003-4825-3624, Wakefield, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-9155-9683 and Stevenson, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2438-6425, 2024. How social norms shape the long-term consequences of war-rape: a mixed method qualitative exploration. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology. ISSN 1078-1919

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Rape is widely used as a weapon of war. Despite its prevalence and impact, war-rape is rarely reported, partly because it is perceived as norm-violating in the patriarchal societies within which it often purposely occurs (e.g., by violating the norm that women should remain chaste), leading to survivors being excluded from their families and communities. While this exclusion is well-documented in the immediate aftermath of war, little is known about its long-term effects on survivors, the strategies survivors use to overcome these effects, or the extent to which these effects and strategies are determined by societal norms and societal discourses. The present manuscript addresses these gaps via two studies, focusing on rape that occurred during the Kosova war in 1998/99. Study 1, analysed the accounts of war-rape survivors (N=18), showing that societal stigma associated with war-rape had long-term negative effects on survivors’ lives, and that survivors’ coping strategies involved focussing on other valued social norms and identities (e.g., motherhood) to reframe their self-image and enhance their self-worth. In Study 2, Kosova political parliamentary debates on legal recognition of war-rape survivors as war victims were analysed using a Critical Discursive approach. Analysis identified gendered discourses of victimhood and motherhood, which serve to rhetorically undermine women’s agency, resilience, and independence. These arguments were used to legitimise the injustices that survivors endured. Findings from both studies suggest that wider societal gendered discriminatory practices have impacted survivors’ experiences of war-rape. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology
Creators: Shala, A., Kellezi, B., Wakefield, J. and Stevenson, C.
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Date: 22 April 2024
ISSN: 1078-1919
Rights: © American Psychological Association, 2024. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 13 Nov 2023 14:01
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2024 08:43

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